Wednesday, September 07, 2016

Fisheries, natural disasters and climate change high on Pacific Islands Forum agenda

Natural disasters, climate change and the economic returns of fisheries resources are on the agenda as Pacific leaders begin their annual summit.

Fresh from the Pacific Islands Conference of Leaders last week, the 47th Pacific Islands Forum (PIF) begun in Micronesia on Wednesday with the states discussing the unique challenges they face with climate change, as well as health and finance issues.

The official opening of the meeting takes place on Thursday night before the leaders sit down to discuss implementation of the forum's "Framework for Pacific Regionalism" until Sunday.

High on the agenda include implementing United Nation's Sustainable Development Goals, trade integration, reducing the burden of cervical cancer, climate change and fisheries.

The forum membership includes the 14 Pacific island nations, including heavyweights Papua New Guinea and Fiji, as well as New Zealand and Australia.

Australia and New Zealand were both admonished at the 2015 summit - which preceded the Paris climate talks - for not committing to stronger action on climate change.

Rhetoric is likely to be heightened at this year's summit as Australia continues policies that encourage fossil fuel use while continuing to undermine the PIF's demands for stronger global action on climate change.

"Unless Australia changes direction, it will continue to be seen as an irresponsible middle power - a rogue state undermining global efforts to tackle climate change," University of the South Pacific lecturer in politics and international affairs Wesley Morgan wrote in an opinion editorial published by The Conversation.

"Australian governments will also find it increasingly hard to convince Pacific island countries they are a friend as well as a neighbour."

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